After much hype and furor, not to mention the occasional controversy, it’s finally time to begin getting used calling the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One current generation consoles instead of next-gen. But, the fight for dominance is far from over as both Sony and Microsoft line up exclusives to convince gamers to invest in their own console.
Fighting in Sony’s corner, as it has done for nearly two decades, game developer Naughty Dog announced last week that a fourth game in the popular explore-a-thon adventure game franchise Uncharted is in development for the PS4. Given how hugely successful Naughty Dog has become in recent years, especially with in the wake of hard-hitting post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us, it’s worth taking a look back at the studio’s humble roots – especially since they just might become very relevant again in the near future.
Before Nathan Drake arrived on the scene, Naughty Dog was unquestionably best known for the Crash Bandicoot games, the first of which was released in 1996 and was followed up by three more Crash Bandicoot games from Naughty Dog that were all released exclusively on the PlayStation. After that, the franchise changed hands between various developers and publishers and eventually wound up with Activision.
Despite the fact that there’s still a lot of love among gamers for the zany and colorful franchise, there hasn’t been a new title in the series since the 2010 mobile release, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2, and there hasn’t been a console-based Crash Bandicoot game for over five years. There is now a small glimmer of hope that Crash might return to glory, however, as a Reddit user today noted that the official Crash Bandicoot site, which was run by Activision, has been taken down.
The user also documented a number of other small occurrences and quotes from Sony or Activision representatives that seem to hint at a reacquisition of Crash Bandicoot by Sony. Taken on their own they don’t seem to mean much but together they do start to add up, with the most compelling pieces of evidence being the cancellation of several Crash Bandicoot titles by Activision in 2010, the fact that Crash Bandicoot has been removed from the list of Activision-owned franchises on Wikipedia, and a source with ties to Naughty Dog saying that a new Crash Bandicoot game is “definitely in production.”
Then there’s Crash Bandicoot co-creator Andy Gavin’s enticing description of what a reboot might be like, from an interview with the official PlayStation Magazine in May 2013:
”Crash needs a total reboot. There’s an opportunity to reset the history, and go back to his creation story and the original conflict with Cortex. In that context, you could reprise classic Crash 1 and 2’s settings and villains. It would make sense to use a more modern, free-roaming style. I would concentrate on Looney Tunes-esque animation and really addictive action. That’s what we did with the original Crash, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be done today. Given [Activision's] Crash games, people forget that he was once cool. [Naughty Dog's] Crash had a certain whimsical edge to him. Sure, it was goofy – but it wasn’t dumb.”
A free-roaming Crash Bandicoot game that harks back to the spirit of the originals and even brings back their villains, all with PS4 graphics and developed by Naughty Dog? Please, don’t tease us.
It could just be wishful thinking on the part of Crash Bandicoot fans or it could be the start of a franchise reboot by the original creators. If Sony has acquired Crash Bandicoot again, however, bear in mind that it could be a while before a new game comes out, as Naughty Dog is currently occupied with the development of Uncharted. In the meantime, the classic Crash Bandicoot is currently available for download from the PlayStation Store.